Pictures and Books 109
the record of the weakness, frailty and death of public opinion,
as geology is the record of the decay of those bodily organisms
in which opinions have found material expression.
A Literary Man's Test
Moliere's reading to his housemaid has, I think, been mis-
understood as though he in some way wanted to see the effect
upon the housemaid and make her a judge of his work. If
she was an unusually clever, smart girl, this might be well
enough, but the supposition commonly is that she was a
typical housemaid and nothing more.
If Moliere ever did read to her, it was because the mere
act of reading aloud put his work before him in a new light
and, by constraining his attention to every line, made him
judge it more rigorously. I always intend to read, and
generally do read, what I write aloud to some one; any one
almost will do, but he should not be so clever that I am afraid
of him. I feel weak places at once when I read aloud where
I thought, as long as I read to myself only, that the passage
was all right.
What Audience to Write for
People between the ages of twenty and thirty read a good
deal, after thirty their reading drops off and by forty is
confined to each person's special subject, newspapers and
magazines; so that the most important part of one's audience,
and that which should be mainly written for, consists of
specialists and people between twenty and thirty.
Writing for a Hundred Years Hence
When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing,
it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a
hundred years hence.